Many businesses around town
hope a village of temporary modular homes for seasonal workers will still be a
reality as early as this fall, despite a lack of secure financing or a business
“It has to be ready by this
fall,” said Ralph Forsyth, co-chair of the H.O.M.E. committee, a task force
developed by local businesses to find a solution to Whistler‘s housing crunch.
“It takes no effort and
energy to say this is too difficult. You have to make it happen yourself. If
there is a general political will, we will find a way.”
The committee’s determination
to get the housing ready in six months took heat from several council members
this week, since only the bare bones of the project have been assembled to
The group has gotten
confirmation from prominent businesses that the proposed units will be used for
employee housing and a site has been found to locate the temporary village.
However the same businesses have not yet committed money and the proposed site
— located opposite Mons road — still needs to be rezoned.
At Monday’s council Meeting,
councillors Bob Lorrimon and Tim Wake, along with mayor Ken Melamed, stressed
that while they support the H.O.M.E. plan in principle they are hesitant to
commit municipal hall to anything that might later cost taxpayers money.
“There is a history of
projects being started under one set of assumptions and then eventually the
municipality and the taxpayer is put on the hook for it,” said Melamed, drawing
an analogy to the inconclusive Rainbow development.
“If the day comes that there
is a budgetary gap to maintain the housing, then my fear is the ask is going to
come to us. We can’t put the taxpayer and the community at risk.”
Melamed also said that even
with the help of municipal hall, the development will likely take a year to
complete. If the development is expedited, it would mark the first time that
council has relaxed the current policy approach to allow temporary housing.
“We are not going to violate
good planning process and procedure… Come to us with a finished plan and money
in the bank. Our staff are prepared to go the extra mile, but it is not our
responsibility,” he said.
Forsyth said he was
disappointed with the outcome of the council meeting. The H.O.M.E. committee
was hoping for more direct support from municipal hall to get the plan off the